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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Seven Best St. Louis-Based Chain Restaurants

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM

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        St. Louis Italian at its best. | Laura Miller
  •         St. Louis Italian at its best. | Laura Miller

Charlie Gitto's (three locations) The Hill is synonymous with excellent Italian cuisine. It makes sense then that Charlie Gitto's has extended its reach to the suburbs as well as downtown, pushing back again the Olive Gardens of the world. For more than 30 years Charlie G's has been cooking up huge plates of old-school St. Louis-style Italian food -- fried calamari, served with a citrus chipotle mayo sauce, or tenderloin Siciliano: a buttery cut of beef two inches thick, smothered with Provel and mushrooms.

Cecil Whittaker's Pizzeria (multiple locations) Though often overshadowed by Imo's, Cecil Whittaker's likewise specializes in St. Louis-style pizza. Their signature is throwing some mozzarella and Colby into its Provel cheese mix -- the result is a slightly sweeter cheese only perceptible to connoisseurs. With origins stretching back to 1983 down in south county, Cecil Whittaker's has expanded out to 25 locations around the St. Louis area. Of course, to go along with your pizza you can grab toasted raviolis or buffalo-style chicken wings.

Llywelyn's Pub (six locations)

Over the past few years Llywelyn's has branched out from its original Central West End location to Webster Groves, Soulard, St. Charles, WingHaven and Wildwood. With a wide selection of draught beers from around the world and some of the best pub food in the city, it's become a go-to spot for neighborhood residents, lovers of fine imported brews and young weekend bar-hoppers alike. Unique features at the Central West End location include an expansive beer garden and the "Loft," a separate bar area complete with a cozy lounge.

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